Transcending The Boundary Between Digital Screen and Physical Reality


"Digicality"is a colored ball dropping installation that plays with physical input and digital output, in which a physical ball could look like it’s falling into a digital screen and being transformed in an unexpected way. ​

The goal here is to propose an unconventional way of interaction with digital technology that falls under the category of what I would describe as Digical Interaction (digital + physical + magical).  This extra subtle layer of tangible property unleashes extremely intriguing possibilities that digital technology alone would never have. I therefore intend my project to engage my audience in an amusing and surprising way while challenging them to rethink the relationship between imaginations and realities.


We are so used to the traditional screen-based way of interacting with technology that it becomes almost subconscious when we are doing it.  They usually emphasize properties like efficiency, productivity, economy, practicality and ease of use. The input and output for these systems are standard, unsurprising, and to some extent, boring, resulting in a numb feeling and limited imagination for technology, and thus eliminating the immense amount of other potential ways of interaction that would’ve spoken to us as curious, adventuresome, creative human being.

Tons of digital media works are therefore built aiming at dealing with such gaps,  all with different angle and approaches. Neil Mendoza’s work embodies the intersection of digital and mechanical technologies that bring inanimate objects and spaces to life. Using this medium, he explores the absurd, the humorous, the futile and the surreal.  There are other types of work, like《GMUNK BOX》which is more of a performative piece that showcases the technologies of projection mapping onto moving objects while being captured with a motion-controlled camera system, delivering an impressive performance of optical illusion. Digital technology and physical space was perfectly organized together to really push the aesthetic, choreography and music.  And functional works like《SketchSynth - A drawable OSC control panel》and《Obake: interactions with a 2.5D elastic display》are other examples of tangible interaction that transcend the boundary of traditional digital screens.

Moving on from digital and physical to the magical. What appeals to human the most about surrealism is this sense of connection and transcendence – or even just the possibilities of their taking place. I think we’re all looking to transcend in some way, to explore or become part of something outside ourselves. And yet mostly we go about our routines amid similar scenery so much that our days can seem to blur into one another. And this is where the illusion of the digital confronted with the physical sparks intriguing avenue for our innate fascination for surrealism. ​


In this project, Arduino deals with the physical inputs and feed them into OpenFrameworks to generates the digital output.


Arduino Sensors:

Adafruit Color Sensor TCS34725:  for detecting the colors of the ball.

GY-521 Accelerometer/Gyroscope: for sensing the tilt of the display.

OpenFrameworks Code Breakdown:

ofxFluid : for fire-like trail of the falling ball

Space Colonization Algorithm: for tree generation


The user experience flow still have room to be smoother. And the connection between the elements (actions, set up, visual, meaning) could be further explored and be more strongly built.

The narrative of the installation is still a progress on the way, and more form and concept research could be made to generate a more solid and deep base of thinking.

The quantity, scale and the prompts might be explored to give a different feel to the same technicalities. For example one of my feedback was to make into a basketball throwing game for multiple players to enjoy the fun together.

​Play with the visuals in other programming or visual design environment to test out more possibilities of visual illusion and aesthetics.

Lastly, better enclosure would also strengthen the illusion I am trying to create as well.

Other projects: 

© 2019 Jungu Guo. All rights reserved.  |   Email: guoj038@newschool.edu






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